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Nat`l airlines yet to benefit from increasing Chinese tourist
January 10th, 2008

Beijing (ANTARA News) – Indonesian airlines have yet to profit from the increasing number of Chinese tourists going to Indonesia as most of the latter still use foreign carriers to make the trip, Indonesia`s top diplomat here said.

“National airlines have yet to grab the opportunity offered by the increasing number of Chinese people who go to Indonesia, and they have not been able to increase their Indonesia-China flight frequencies,” Indonesian Ambassador to China Sudrajat said here Thursday.

Sudrajat was commenting on efforts to anticipate an increase in the flow of Chinese tourists to Indonesia following the launching of Visit Indonesia Year 2008 (VIY 2008) by Tourism and Culture Minister Jero Wacik in Jakarta in late December.

VIY 2008 is aimed at improving the people`s welfare through the tourism sector by involving all elements in Indonesian society.

The promotion program is meant to enable Indonesia to attract no less than seven million foreign tourists in 2008.

Sudrajat said, after the opening of a Visa-on-Arrival service for Chinese nationals visiting Indonesia, Chinese tourist visits to regions such as Bali had increased significantly.

“But because of the limited capacity of Indonesian airlines to conduct direct flights between Indonesia and China, most Chinese tourists use Chinese airlines to go to Indonesia,” he added.

During 2007, most Chinese tourists visiting Indonesia used Southern Airlines which conducted a direct flight between Shanghai and Bali twice a week. Some of them used China Air which also flew to Indonesia twice a week.

In 2008, the ambassador said, some of the Chinese airlines would increase their flight frequency to four flights a week to anticipate the growing number of Chinese people visiting Indonesia, Bali in particular.

The number of Chinese tourists visiting Bali in 2007 reached 30,000 and the number was expected to double in 2008.

“The number of Chinese tourists visiting Indonesia was targeted at 300,000 in 2007 and in October the number had already reached 230,000,” he said, adding that the target for 2008 had been set at more than 300,000.

He said efforts to achieve the 2008 Chinese tourist arrival target would need the active involvement of all related parties including the Tourism and Culture Ministry, flight operators, tour operators, and the Indonesian Embassy in Beijing.

Currently, three Indonesian airlines were providing an air link between Indonesia and China, namely Garuda Indonesia, Batavia Air and Lion Air.

Only Garuda Indonesia was operating a Jakarta-Beijing air service while two other national airlines were serving routes between Jakarta and cities in southern China.

Sudrajat also expressed hope Indonesian airlines could improve their service to Chinese tourists as some of them had complained about unsatisfactory service they had experienced when flying Indonesian airlines. The complaints included frequent flight delays

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